Predicting the Future – Writer’s Resources

Sicfi fans are smiling together today. It is the day that Marty McFly traveled to in the iconic Back to the Future movie. Remembering that light-hearted, entertaining story about one boy who changed the future will have many of us tuning in once again (Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy ) to share the fun with our kids.

In the original script the time travel portal was a refrigerator. It’s easy to visualize the comedic scenes that could have spun off from that idea. Would removal of a certain item cause the time travel event? Would the characters have had to squeeze inside? Would grabbing the handle make the floor drop out from under Marty and company? It was a cool idea but I think that the DeLorean was a much racier choice.

It’s been fun to see the differences between the movies’ visions of the future and what actually transpired!

Time travel, as a story theme, is fruitful ground—ripe for the imagination. Economists, politicians, governments, storytellers, futurists, scientists, dreamers, children and their parents all wonder about the future.

As a writer, I find that scenes set in the past are much easier to imagine than ones set in the future. Information, history and research is easy to access. What I enjoy most abut that type of writing is weaving in little known facts—learning becomes effortless and fun. (Author, Ken Follett is a master of this technique.)

How can a writer prep for composing futuristic fiction?

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Currently I am working on a scenario where a character from the year 2135 travels back to the mid 1980’s.  Coming up a story rich in details that haven’t happened yet is challenging.

Since we have we have a 10-year-old son who will be ready to start his professional life somewhere around the year 2030, my research about the future has become a family affair. Together and separately we read and talk about articles in geek, science and technology magazines. We watch TV shows and documentaries where futurists entertain us with their speculations. The links below are to some of our favorites.

“The kids who will control the solar system are the ones who do not give up, who enjoy doing it and persist.” – Chuck Pell, Artist, Entrepreneur and Futurist and host of the TV series, Xploration Earth 2050.

Other Resources:

U.S. National Intelligence Council website Global Trends 2030. Articles submitted by academicians and think tank members discuss a variety of topics such as population, immigration, climate change, aging and more.

MAKE Magazine & Movement

The Futurist Magazine

As with any writing endeavor, research can take tremendous amounts of time. So much so, that it may be difficult to pinpoint where to stop.

As the cast and creators of Back to the Future point out, some future predictions were right and others were wrong. While you are working on a project, you have no idea if it will be a hit or a flop. Only time will tell.

In the end, all any writer can do is create strong characters, set the scene, make their best guess and enjoy the journey.

Today Show cast interview.

 

Train Tunnels, Chinese History and Urban Art at Donner Summit

Explorations Around Donner Summit (California)

Research for an upcoming book prompted a plan to hike to the China Wall at Donner Pass. Mom must be humored at least one day a year (Mother’s Day). Driving an hour to Donner was an opportunity to get the family out of the house and learn some local history.  Other than me, the dogs were the only members of the family who were truly enthusiastic about the outing from the get-go.  But as the day wore on, everyone found something interesting to capture their imagination.

Donner_Lake_as_seen_from_Donner_Pass

Taking in the expansive views overlooking Donner Lake and trekking over gargantuan, sun warmed slabs of granite, one can not help thinking about the ancient hands that pecked away at the rock faces some 1,500 to 4,000 years ago. Nomadic bands of Great Basin Indians spent many pleasurable hours here. They quenched their thirst from the streams that burble their way down to the lake below as they labored to record their thoughts and ideas in stone. The exact meaning of the 200 rock art designs has been lost in the annals of time. Today’s viewers are left to fill in the blanks in an attempt to guess at their story.

Not far above the petroglyphs, and in more recent history (just a meer hundred and fifty years ago), another story with blank pages exists – the names and personalities of the people who built the China Wall and train tunnels.

In its day the railroad moved people and products faster than ever. This new mode of transport was responsible for booming business and for populating the west. As one historian put it, the railroad would be comparable to the internet today.

Charles Crocker was in a hurry to make progress on his section of the railroad. Government incentives offered sizable rewards for the company that could lay the most track in the shortest amount of time.

Facing the problem of getting his project over Donner Summit, Crocker wondered if the Chinese, who’d invented fireworks and built the Great Wall, could help. Starting off with only 50 workers, Charles soon discovered that his guess was right. Determined, dependable and with specialized knowledge of nitroglycerine the Chinese proved that they were the right people to accomplish the task. Within a year, 8000 pioneering immigrants were hard at work tunneling through the rock. Granite is one of the hardest minerals on the planet. Progress consisted of making their way through the span of a large man’s hand (14 inches) per day. With wages at $28 per month, these workers were a bargain, even by 1850 standards.640px-Chinese_railroad_workers_sierra_nevadachinese built trai tunnel

Donkey steam engines lowered men in baskets down along the steep rock cliffs. (*see below for update) Holes were drilled, filled with black powder, packed and tamped. Men scrambled for safety as fuses were lit. Once the air cleared after the blast and the debris was moved away, men went back down to repeat the process.

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9-2015 update – additional research has pointed out that the artist rendering of the baskets lowered over the cliffs may have been ‘railroad hype’ to entice train travelers. Bosuns chairs, similar to what tree climbers and sailors use, were likely employed to gain access to the steep cliff faces.

baskets and bosuns chairs

cape horn plaque cropped
Near Donner Summit is Cape Horn – another treacherous cliff face that Chinese railroad workers tamed.

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In the Tunnels Today

My dogs were surprisingly sedate, while we strolled through the cool, dark and dripping, tunnels. A quiet hush permeated the space even though plenty of visitors were never far away. Did the dogs sense something that I could not?  As I gazed up at the high jagged walls antiqued with residue from the coal smoke that spit from the mouths of long retired locomotives, my thoughts reached back to span the years between then and now.  Grasping at unknown stories of the men responsible for this feat of engineering, I anticipate the time when I am ready to sit across from my keyboard to tap out a tale that gives definition back to the blank faces that ignorance and prejudice caused to slip into historical obscurity.

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0510151350The photographer in me, delighted at the colorful urban art along the smooth walls of the snow sheds. Does it connect in some way to the Native Americans and Chinese people who occupied this place?

The mom in me cringed as my 10 year old son stood reading some of the uncomfortable statements that were written five feet tall. Like any art form, it moves us to think outside of our respective boxes… This is usually a good thing.0510151318

Protected from the fading rays of the sun, these ever changing urban designs remain vibrant and saturated. I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself coaxing photography clients to join me and my camera in this fascinating spot filled with so many intriguing layers of history.

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donner summit tunnel

If you’re going:

Map of the Donner Summit Area

Donner Summit Historical Society -Tunnel 6 – PDF

Donner Pass History –  Blog – On the Summit

Chinese History Videos:

Organization & Social Media for Authors

Author Interview – Resources for Writers

If you are a Haylee fan, you’ll discover a bit of the back story in this condensed author interview. You’ll also learn about the historical research – San Francisco and California Gold Rush – that went into the project.

Created to coincide with the release of Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone (paperback), the interview contains marketing and social media tips for authors. It also delves into character development, creativity and sources for Public Domain images.

The original, in-depth author interview can be read on the blog, You Read It Here First.

Interviewer:

Debbie McClure, author of In the Spirit of Love and In the Spirit of Forgiveness
You Read It Here First Blog owner—Christina Hamlett, Screenplay Consultant, Media Relations Expert and Award-Winning Author.

Narrator Spotlight – Meghan Kelly on Eargasms Audiobook Reviews

“I believe both creating a very intriguing story to listen to AS WELL AS the production being top notch are vitally important! “ – Meghan Kelly

When I met Meghan Kelly through ACX [Aubible], It was love at first listen.

If you are interested in turning your Amazon book into an audiobook, you can post your title on ACX.com. Once it’s live on the site, finding your voice artist is like a virtual dating game…

Voice artists may send authors auditions or authors can scour through voice artist profiles listening to their sample files. When I first set-up my ACX account, I didn’t think that the gender of the artist would matter. Boy was I wrong! (ha ha) After listening to lots of voice samples, I realized that there were HUGE differences…in performance, the overall vibe of the voice and in the recording quality. I had just begun to create a list of artists to contact when Meghan e-mailed her audition file. Was it a fated sign from the cosmos that the best voice I could possibly imagine for Haylee just turned up…or was it just simple luck?

Her professionalism made working long distance seem effortless. The quality of the final product is something we are both proud of.

The day that she sent over chapter proofs is a day that will linger in my memory. Hearing my words…with HER beautiful, sultry, sexy and animated voice….made me laugh (in sheer delight!) until tears were streaming down my face. I felt a little like Cyrano de Bergerac.

Bubbles Bursting – the disappearing Amazon Reviews

They were great! Those first Amazon reviews.  They were from my advance copy readers – friends and family who got roped into helping with the book project. Then, like beautiful bubbles with rainbow reflections sailing skyward – they popped and disappeared.Haylee e-Trilogy add

My high tech hubby says, “You must have thanked too many people.”  Our guess is that there is an auto-program in the inner workings of Amazon that zaps out reviews from people who were mentioned in the book.

No matter….if plan “A” doesn’t work out, there’s always another.

My marketing plan for Haylee is simple. If you like it, tell  your friends.

Haylee and the Traveler's Stone trilogy

Here’s the link to book #1
Haylee Awakened Seed

It’s price .99¢

(as close to free as I could get)
(FREE in the  Kindle Lending Library)

Haylee and the Travelers Stone

Haylee 200A young woman, with an unusual psychic ability suddenly becomes a Traveler.

Can you stop being lonely when your touch destroys everyone you love?

Haylee and the Travelers Stone is a new adult, paranormal, romantic, time travel, thriller. Click here to read back cover copy.

In order to accumulate Amazon reviewers prior to the publishing date (Summer 2014), FREE reading / review copies will be available through June 2014.

 

How to get Haylee onto your Kindle.

The first step is to download the file and save it on your computer in a place you’ll remember.

Click here for instructions on what to do on Amazon.com to Manage your Kindle.